Finishing adjustments can add that extra polish that makes your piece perfect. While not strictly sizing, the finishes are places that can have a huge impact on the way things fit, so I think that discussion fits here. This post considers finishing adjustments to the body, and I will get to sleeves will be discussed in another post.
Finishing Adjustments: Blocking
First things first though. Block. I know you checked your measurements as you went, but now is the time to refine things, and mostly to make sure that your blocked piece matches the measurements you planned to achieve. Minor adjustments can be made during blocking, but if you stretch or compact, your pieces, will return to their natural state when given a chance. No point making temporary changes what will hang out as soon as the piece is worn.
Blocking gives you the final fabric. There can be some fudging, but make sure it is effective fudging. When working along if you think you can just block something out, be sure it is something can be blocked out. Truly, it is easier to rip then. Finding out you need to redo now is horrible.
Finishing Adjustments: Seaming
I like to do garments in one piece to the armholes when possible for two reasons:
- A huge chunk of the knitting done at the beginning when enthusiasm is high, and
- No seaming in pattern or need to match pattern at the side seams.
This isn’t always desirable or possible, so you may very well have seaming in the body. How you planned for your seaming is crucial. If you didn’t plan, and the designer didn’t plan, you are going to lose stitches–which means inches–and no amount of finishing adjustments can fix that. This is what gets lost if there aren’t seaming stitches but there is a seam:
- two entire stitches if you seam using a half-stitch mattress stitch seam (which I generally don’t recommend for garments), or
- four entire stitches if you use the one-stitch mattress stitch seam.
With a stitch gauge of 4 stitches per inch gauge, a half of an inch or an inch in circumference is lost. The extra bulk of the seam takes up a little too, so you may lose even more. The impact depends on the gauge. The larger the number of stitches per inch, the smaller the impact of losing stitches.
Ideally you looked at your numbers (measurements, gauge, stitch counts) before you got started. Hopefully a schematic is provided for additional information. Where seaming (selvedge) stitches were not included, you can add them in! A stitch worked at either end of your row, in stockinette, will give you a nice clean line to seam along and will have preserved the measurements given. If that seam stitch is part of the stitch counts, and excluded from final measurements, you are good to go!
Seaming stitches are carried forward through the armhole. There should be a seam stitch along the neck for picking up stitches there as well. A bit of quick math can tell you whether that was calculated into the pattern.
Finishing Adjustments: Pullover Neckline
Hopefully you shaped your shoulders and have joined them using a three-needle bind off. This is the easiest finishing adjustment to make, and you can read about how to do it here. Block (probably steam, but wet if needed) the shoulder after joining if the pieces were blocked before joining. This area should be flat and easy to work across when picking up stitches. Take a minute to work in the ends too.
You were probably given a number of stitches to pick up around the neckline for your trim. Match the trim gauge for these numbers to work. If trim gauge wasn’t given, you may be able to figure it out by measuring and stitch counts. If your gauge for trim is different, you will have to sort this out on your own.
There are too many variables possible for specifics, but these are my general guidelines for picking up neckline trim for a pullover:
- The number of stitches picked up should be 10 to 15 percent less than the measurement and/or stitch counts achieved by calculations of measurements and gauge. See Pullover neckline sketch for clarification.
- Pay attention to how the pick ups go. Where stitches picked up seem too spaced out, add more. Where picked up stitches are jammed together, pick up fewer stitches. I tend to pick up what seems right, then count and make some fudges on the first row. If there are too many stitches the trim will have a wavy edge, while too few stitches will pull in or, worse yet, be too small to pull over.
- Use markers as you pick up. Mark the shoulders, either side of the center front neck bind off and the center neck back bind off.
- Start picking up at the left shoulder and pick up in rows to the center front bind off. Don’t pick up in large holes caused while shaping–pick up on either side of a hole to close it up.
- Pick up into the stitches bound off across the front neck. Where the stitches were put onto stitch holders, knit them.
- The pick up from the right side of the front neck to the right shoulder should be exactly the same as the left, so count your stitches. Put in a locking pin marker to separate the straight portion of the neckline from the curve if needed to better match the left side.
- Continue to pick up along the back neck shaping on the right side.
- Either pick up or knit the center back stitches.
- Match the pick up for left back neck shaping to the right side.
- Place a beginning marker and work trim in the round.
Finishing Adjustments: Cardigan Neckline
Front bands can be done before or after the neckline trim as a matter of preference or design.
- If the bands are already on the cardigan, pick up an appropriate number of stitches to reflect the stitch gauge/row gauge ratio.
- The number of stitches picked up overall should be 10 to 15 percent less than the measurement and/or stitch counts achieved by calculations of measurements and gauge. Make the adjustments in numbers where working stitches to rows. See sketch below for clarification.
- See 2 above.
- Use markers as you pick up. Mark the front band (if present), shoulders, either side of the center front neck bind off and the center back neck bind off.
- Start picking up at the center front or at the front band edge. Start on the right side and pick up into stitches.
- Pick up around the curve of the front neckline shaping. The pick ups are now in rows. Don’t pick up in large holes caused while shaping–pick up on either side of a hole to close that hole up. Put in a marker when you hit the straight part of the neck if you like.
- Continue to pick up to the right shoulder and place a marker.
- Work the pick up along the back neck curve on the right side.
- Pick up into stitches across the center back neck or knit stitches held on stitch marker.
- Match the left side to the right side as you continue to the opposite front edge or front band edge.
Finishing Adjustments: Why So Tricky?
Trim, whether flat or in the round, begins at the outside edge of a circle and is worked inward to a smaller circumference measurement where the trim is bound off. See drawings. Your stitches should be slightly spread out at the pick up and nicely compressed but flexible at the bind off. Remember how much weight and pressure this area is subjected to; finishing adjustments here will pay off.
I’m going to discuss the finishing adjustment to armholes in another post–this got long pretty quickly. Feel free to ask questions!